Clothes Make the Man
Updated: Sep 3
As I was preparing for this blog, a quote kept running through my head, “Clothes make the man.”
I couldn’t shake it off so I did a search on the Internet and found that it first appeared almost a hundred years ago in a book called More Maxims of Mark. In fact the entire quote from Mark Twain goes like this: Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society. I geeked out further and found out that Shakespeare wrote a similar line in his play Hamlet. “For the apparel oft proclaims the man . . .” declared Lord Polonius. Most recently, Hollywood stylist and fashion designer Rachel Zoe said something similar, "Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak."
How (much) do I look?
We’ve put so much value in what we wear that the global fashion industry is estimated to be in the trillions of dollars.¹ I am not blogging about fashion entirely but was just amazed at how much money is spent on clothing and everything related to it. That made me curious about another industry: How much do we spend on self-help/improvement? There were no world statistics online but it seems Americans put a premium on this because they project that this industry would be worth about $13 billion in the United States in the next decade.² If those statistics don’t prove that fashion and inner well-being matter a lot in the world today then I don’t know what will. In the middle of all that though, can we truly say that we know and understand who we are? Do our clothes and self-improvement goals show our true identities?
The first Designer Clothing Line
These days, I’ve been drawn again and again to the story of creation.
The fact that everything was perfect in the beginning made me look deeper into the story. Adam, then Eve, had a close relationship with God and both were in constant communication with Him. The animals were all submissive towards them. They did not have a care in the world because everything was provided for them. They lived in an ecological haven and had everything they needed. As in all stories, there is an adversary out to wreak havoc. The crafty serpent did just that by telling them malicious statements and lies – they will be like God, not die, and with their eyes being opened know good and evil. The sad thing is they were tempted by the tree's pleasing appearance and wanted to become wise so they decided to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, breaking God’s command. The first thing they realized was they were naked and went on to dress themselves up with sewn fig leaves. What a pitiful sight they must have been! God rebuked and pronounced judgement on Adam and Eve and then proceeded to create the first article of clothing made from animal skin. It’s interesting to note here that man’s attempt at clothing himself falls short compared to God’s design and creation.
A reflection on clothes
Through the ages, we’ve been clothing ourselves with everything from synthetic material and recently with a conscious effort back to organic materials. It seems, however, that we’re never satisfied with what we wear. Year in year out, four times a year, we see new styles of clothing, or sometimes reinvented old designs parade in top fashion shows in the world, and later in various adapted versions in stores and malls in our communities. We buy them because they look good, or we look good in them, or they make a statement, or because we just need clothes (guilty ;-) ). Whatever your reason is clothing reflects in part who we are. I wrote “in part” because there is so much more to us than clothes.
Of fig leaves and lies
When Adam and Eve believed what the serpent said, they lost sight of the fact that they had everything they needed, were living the perfect lives, and created in the image and likeness of God.
The decision they made in that instant became an ill-fated turning point for the entire human race affecting us from that moment to today. Since that time, we’ve been trying to clothe ourselves with different things (fashion, beauty, intellectual pursuits, fortune, accolades, power) and unfortunately with more lies (I’m not good enough, I need more things to satisfy my needs, I need a man or woman to make me feel complete, I’ll work every day and never take a day off so I can advance my career/business – my family will understand, Success will complete me, My significance is in my wealth, intelligence, and beauty, I am never wrong, I am successful because of me only, I don’t need any kind of relationship in my life – I’m fine with just myself, etc.) from the serpent. A bold step is needed. Our “fig leaves” don’t really cut it. The lies have led us to a false understanding of our true selves.
¹Fashion - worldwide | Statista Market Forecast. (2016). Retrieved January 15, 2019, from https://www.statista.com/outlook/244/100/fashion/worldwide
²LaRosa, J. (2018, October 11). The $10 Billion Self-Improvement Market Adjusts to a New Generation. Retrieved January 15, 2019, from https://blog.marketresearch.com/the-10-billion-self-improvement-market-adjusts-to-new-generation